Nazem Kadri and The Top Five Toronto Marlies That Should Be Promoted
With the state of the Leafs as it is, they will not be making the playoffs this season and are more than likely not heading there the following season, unless major roster movement occurs.
Why is that, you ask? Currently, only Nazem Kadri, who was recently sent down by the Leafs, is the lone Marlies player drafted by the Leafs. Jerry D'Amigo and James Reimer are at the World Juniors and warming the bench for JS Giguere, respectively.
Not only is this a problem, but it's one of the many problems facing this organization. Their inability to properly develop many of their draft picks has probably been one of the organization's greatest problems.
You have read my previous slideshows of bad draft picks and even the Leafs' top draft picks, and the main points you can take away from them are that they drafted terribly, dealt picks away and, lastly, allowed for the best prospects from years past to leave the organization via trade or free agency. See Tuukka Rask, Brad Boyes, Alex Steen, Matt Stajan and so on.
With that said, since the Leafs like to call up third line AHL'ers to fill in for many player voids in the lineup, I thought it would be fitting to put together a slideshow of the top five players that need a promotion—some you may argue don't deserve one.
5. Defenseman Matt Lashoff
Thought I'd put Keith Aulie here? Well, I thought I'd promote someone else deserving of some respect. Matt Lashoff has arguably been the Marlies' best defender this year and is currently on a 40-point pace this season, while playing a positive plus/minus role with the Marlies.
At 6'2," 205 pounds, Lashoff has the size, truculence and the skating ability to forge himself a role in the NHL somewhere, most likely in the bottom two pairing. His contract is way better than many of the overpaid, under-performing Leafs defenders they currently have on their roster, so you could see Lashoff if a deal is made.
36 GP 3 G 15 A 18 P +2 80 PIM
4. Center Christian Hanson
To this day, I still don't know what Christian Hanson did in the preseason to not warrant an opportunity to play as part of the Leafs' roster.
At 6'4," 225 pounds, Hanson would easily become the Leafs' largest center, and easily its most powerful to boot. He has yet to show finish in the NHL, but his size, speed and ability to play in both ends should not go unnoticed.
On a positive note, he can play the wing in a pinch, but he is more suited for center duties. Hanson's game is reminiscent of current Leaf Colby Armstrong, except Hanson uses his body less and skates better, but overall, he's a pretty good comparison.
29 GP 9 G 9 A 18 P -4 15% Shooting Percentage.
3. Left Winger Luca Caputi
Another player I currently don't know what he did to lose a roster spot in the preseason, Caputi, who comes in at 6'3," 200 pounds, is another player who has size, speed and skill, three qualities that rarely fit with the current set of Leaf forwards.
Currently injured with the Marlies, Caputi has not played a game in some time, but his numbers were decent. He may not have scored at a great clip, but he created chances to score nearly every time he was on the ice.
With Kadri back on the farm, and Caputi soon to return, the Marlies could get quite the scoring punch to a team that is in playoff contention.
11 GP 1 G 4 A 5 P +1
2. Center Nazem Kadri
Just recently demoted by the Leafs, it's my belief that Kadri would be better served getting regular time and learning from his mistakes in the NHL. Without a goal in 16 games, Kadri has struggled to put the puck in the net, as well as in the face-off circle and with general defensive play, but his ability to create something out of nothing cannot be ignored.
Kadri, who averaged a point per game with the Marlies before getting promoted, will more than likely do the same when he returns to Ricoh.
Hopefully, we will see Kadri soon in a Leafs jersey, because the more Ron Wilson plays around with this kid's emotions, the worse off he will be. There's a time to play bad cop, but really, after being a healthy scratch for Brett Lebda of all players, Kadri's confidence is obviously shot right now.
According to Brian Burke, Kadri isn't coming back anytime soon, and he will need to thoroughly prove himself in the AHL. The Leafs continue to struggle to score and play with any offensive flare, as they hope Joey Crabb, Darryl Boyce, Tim Brent, Colton Orr, Fredrick Sjostrom and John Mitchell can somehow create offense. Yeah, that's about three waffles short of a decent breakfast right there.
Pass the syrup please, Mr. Burke.
14 GP 5 G 9 A 14 P with Marlies
16 GP 0 G 6 A 6 P with Leafs
1. Center Mike Zigomanis
Well, if Kadri is getting passed by the likes of grinders and defensive specialists such as Joey Crabb, Darryl Boyce and John Mitchell, then obviously the Leafs should have this guy on their roster.
It's with no disrespect to Zigomanis, but with his style of play, you would think he'd already be on the Leafs' roster.
A team that is in dire need of some face-off help, along with penalty killing help now that Mike Brown has been on the shelf for about a month, has yet to call up this man.
Last year, he posted 13 points with the Marlies in a limited number of games, and he actually earned a roster spot out of camp, but he eventually lost it to none other than John Mitchell. Why that happened, I do not know. Since Zigomanis left, the Leafs' face-off stats went down, their penalty kill went back to being atrocious and, lastly, their record followed suit.
He's got nothing left to prove to me, as he's a point per game player in the AHL and has a game good enough for a bottom-six role on nearly any team in the league that wants him. Why the Leafs don't want him is anyone's guess.
I'll continue this campaign until he is called up and remains on the Leafs' roster. Until then, I will be pumping everyone full of Zigomanis Kool-Aid.
28 GP 5 G 15 A 20 P -2